I found a neat blog for world languages that I’m going to follow now. It has some of the concepts we’ve been covering in my modern language methods class as the core values. They’re seeking authentic, communicative language learning, not simply a regurgitation of rules. Several PBLs were included. I chose the first on the list provided.
For a first year language learner (of any variety), having them dive into authentic sources and providing authentic input (not simply speaking in English about the language) is crucial. To have the students use basic level grammar and vocabulary, one teacher has them write a menu, write a short script, and create a video about the experience. Specific standards aren’t addressed in this, but it encompasses using the grammar, writing understandable sentences, and speaking, all of which are crucial in language learning. In a language classroom, I believe communication should be the main goal. Students can see the benefit of this project when we share the videos with native speakers. Their involvement will greatly increase when they receive feedback and hopefully a few chuckles over great, amusing scripts. When they see that they can communicate with others in a foreign language, hopefully it will encourage them to participate more in the classroom and not view a foreign language as another hoop to jump through to get a better diploma. This particular project doesn’t necessarily combine with other subject areas; however, it could easily be modified to work with a social science class. If you wanted to describe different dialects, you could present it to several countries and change words to whatever the call a particular food item. I believe this could encompass all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students need to recall and remember the various words for food items that we’ve covered in class. They need to understand the basic formation of a sentence and grammatical rules in another language and apply these basic ideas. They’ll need to compare what they’ve written to how a native speaker would say something to look for mother language interference. They need to evaluate what they should include in their presentation. And lastly, they are actually creating something in the target language instead of repeating what has been given to them. Creativity, high productivity, communication (both within their group and with others outside), and manipulating the technology used all incorporate 21st century skills that are highly valued. I believe the students would work harder on these projects if they understood that a native speaker would be commenting on them. Also, who doesn’t like to talk about food?!? I think this is a wonderful way to encourage lower level foreign language learners to continue on. The words are generally easier to use and sound similar to English often. When they go to the grocery, they can impress their parents by labeling the various foods in Spanish. If they see a Spanish-speaker struggling to find something in the market, perhaps they could help. Also, if they go to a foreign country, they would be more able to order at a restaurant and know what is coming before it shows up on the table. I like this project because it focuses on the language instead of the technology. It brings the language to life in that they are communicating with others.